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October 2, 2008

Update on the Chicken Feed Project

Earlier this summer I tried growing maggots in a bucket for my chickens.

Did it work? Well, it did and it didn't.

Using animal carcasses (dead chickens) and kitchen waste did not work. For some reason it did not produce maggots. I don't see flies in my chicken coop - I have NO idea why. I tried hanging the baited bucket in other places where there are flies, but my cats kept finding a way to get into the bucket. I didn't think that eating rotten meat and spoiled kitchen garbage was a good idea.

Then I had a brainstorm one day while walking past a pile of fresh horse manure that the flies were buzzing around. Yes, I'm growing maggots on manure for my chickens. Before you go "eeeeew" remember that your free range birds are scratching in manure of their own volition. (My chickens are held captive because my dogs cannot resist the temptation to kill and eat them.)

This paragraph is a bit explicit, so read at your own risk. A rather-fresh pile of manure is shoveled into a bucket, after the flies have been buzzing it for awhile. I add a layer of wood shavings on top to reduce the smell. After 3-5 days I pour it into a plastic tray on the chicken coop floor, where the birds can scratch through it and discover the icky lovely yummy maggots hiding therein. (My initial experiment included a bucket with holes in the bottom for the maggots to fall through, but I'm now using a solid bucket.)

My little flock is very excited when I bring a bucket into the coop. Scratching though it gives the captive birds something to do too. Of course, this won't work over the winter when there are no flies. Someone suggested growing mealworms for them during the winter, or perhaps worms. I'm looking into those ideas.

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